Classics for sale: 1970 Plymouth Superbird

Always dreamed of winning the Daytona 500? This NASCAR-inspired muscle car turned aerodynamic rocket ship is available in our classifieds right now!

Some cars are desirable from day one. Others are roundly ignored for decades, only to have their true value realised retroactively. It’s something of a surprise that the Plymouth Superbird falls into the latter category, given its racing pedigree.

There are cars which flew off forecourts thanks to their motorsport pedigree. Both the Subaru Impreza WRX and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution sold like hotcakes due to their respective exploits in the World Rally Championship. Yet Plymouth’s limited run, aerodynamically modified version of their Road Runner muscle car had no such success on its launch in 1970.

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Much like Group B monsters which had preceded the Impreza and Lancer in rallying, the Superbird was built to fulfil production criteria for motorsport, specifically for NASCAR’s premier Grand National Series in the Superbird’s case.

In modern-day NASCAR there is almost zero variation between short ovals, road courses and superspeedways like Daytona and Talladega, for which this car was designed to race at. But in 1970, with more creative freedom at their disposal, Plymouth was free to design whatever it felt like to extract more top speed.

A literal rocket scientist by profession, Chrysler missile designer John Pointer designed sleeker front bodywork to help reduce drag, while an extremely tall rear wing to escape dirty airflow being created by the car’s front end. Predictably, it turned the somewhat boxy Road Runner into an absolute missile.

Made famous by seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty, donning light blue paint and a white #43 on each door, the Superbird won on its competitive debut at the 1970 Daytona 500 with Petty’s team-mate Pete Hamilton at the wheel of the sister #40 car.

It would also be the last of the infamous ‘aero cars’ in NASCAR history, with horsepower limits for big-winged cars introduced in 1971 spelling the end for its competitive racing days.

Despite its racing provenance dealers reputedly couldn’t shift all of the approximately 1,920 units produced, put off by its extreme styling. Wind the clock forward nearly 50 years and prices are starting to surge, such is demand for this now iconic NASCAR racer for the road.

Though this particular example doesn’t come in Petty Blue, it’s still instantly recognisable as one of Plymouth’s superspeedway specials. Painted instead in Alpine White, it comes bedecked with ‘Road Runner’ decals on the front left headlight cover, rear wing struts, boot lid and steering wheel.

Packing a Super Commando 440cu V8 with 375bhp and a three-speed automatic transmission, this Superbird has also clocked only 10,000 miles since being restored to its former glory.

Admittedly it’s not one of the most desirable incarnations of the Superbird, an honour falls to four-speed versions mated to a Hemi V8. Regardless, at $209,999 it’s still an interesting proposition for someone who wants a car that combines a mix of investment potential and tyre-shredding fun. After all, who doesn’t want to feel like The King for a day?

See this car’s AutoClassics classified listing here.

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